Vanessa Bryant Pays Emotional Tribute To Husband Kobe and Daughter Gianna
In front of the thousands of people at the Staples Centre, California, this evening - where the NBA legend played for the LA Lakers - the 37-year-old celebrated their lives.
After Beyoncé opened the memorial performing two of her hits, 'XO' and 'Halo', Vanessa was helped to the stage by Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
The mother-of-five opened her speech by praising her daughter, who was following in her father's footsteps as a talented basketball player. She highlighted Gianna's caring nature and how she always put others first.
She said: "She was always thoughtful. She always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning.
"There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianka and Capri and thought she had left for school without saying goodbye.
"I'd text and say, 'No kiss?' and Gianna would reply, 'Mama, you were asleep and I didn't want to wake you.' She knew how much her kiss meant to me and kissed me every day."
Vanessa lamented that she would not be able to watch her daughter grow up and reach the major milestones of her life.
She went on: "We didn't get the chance to teach her how to drive a car. I won't be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day.
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"Gianna would have been an amazing mommy. She was very maternal ever since she was really little. Gigi would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA."
Vanessa was married to Kobe for 19 years. She took the opportunity to tell those gathered in the arena how much she loved him.
She said: "He was mine. He was my everything. Kobe and I had been together since I was 17.5 years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidante and his protector.
"A couple weeks before they passed, Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together. Just the two of us without our kids because I'm his best friend first.
"We never got the chance to do it. We were busy taking care of our girls and just doing our regular everyday responsibilities, but I'm thankful I have that recent text. It means so much to me."
Following his retirement, Vanessa said Kobe took over the school-run and, while he would sometimes be late, he always wanted to improve and be the best parent possible, showering his kids with compliments and encouraging them to believe in themselves.
She said: "I'm so glad that Kobe heard KoKo say Dada. He isn't going to be to drop Bianka or Capri off at kindergarten, be here to tell me get a grip or show up to doctor visits for my own moral support.
"He won't be able to walk our girls down the aisle, spin them around the dance floor singing PYT to me."
Vanessa then concluded her emotional farewell: "God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. I got Nata, Bebe and KoKo.
"We love and miss you, boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace, have fun in heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you forever and always. Mommy."
The seven other passengers who also lost their lives in the crash on Sunday 26 January were basketball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri; and their daughter Alyssa; Payton Chester and her mother Sarah; Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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